Fantasy Baseball Breeds Real Life Drama | The Golden Sombrero Baseball Blog | MLB, Fantasy, College & High School Baseball News

Fantasy Baseball Breeds Real Life Drama

Fantasy sports provide average fans a way to feel connected with their favorite pastimes in an above average way.  Previously relegated to rooting on our home teams and beloved players in voiceless anonymity, we now have the pleasure of “owning” our own teams and “managing” them the way we see fit.  While fans in some cities (Houston, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, etc.) may seem doomed by poor front office management to remain perpetually pessimistic about their World Series chances, this frustration may be at least partially alleviated by one’s own participation in the fantasy baseball world.  No longer do fans sit back passively and observe the games as they are played, they are now active participants making decisions that determine whether their team wins or loses.  Obviously, such a scenario is bound to be obsessed over and today’s fixation on the supposedly pretend fantasy game now blurs the boundaries of reality.

I personally am not one of the roughly 11 million Americans currently competing in a fantasy baseball league, but a few of my close friends, including my older brother, are complete fantasy freaks.  They play in a ridiculously competitive league for much coveted bragging rights and the accompanying honor of the first pick in the following season’s draft but no money is involved.  I’m sure many readers are thinking to themselves, “I bet my league is more (competitive, knowledgeable, difficult to win, or whatever other self-gratifying adjectives they can think up) than those guys’.”  If you play in Tout Wars you may have a point, otherwise you are almost assuredly mistaken.   And if you aren’t familiar with Tout Wars, you aren’t even close.

This league is almost entirely comprised of graduates/former baseball players from Grinnell College, a highly respected, private liberal arts institution in rural Iowa often dubbed “the Harvard of Methland.”  The place is literally nerd central for the Midwest, and the guys in this league not only received degrees from its insanely rigorous academic program, they also played baseball for the Grinnell Pioneers.  They basically make up any casual fantasy player’s nightmare matchup: super-educated geeks who have the obsessive drive required to play collegiate athletics, but have since retired from playing the sport they love so dearly.  To get an idea of what these guys are all about, and to get some tips for your own sorry team, check out their writing at The Golden Sombrero.

They ooh and ah over OPS and WHIP the same way I do over diving catches and moon shot homeruns.  I sometimes can only tell what they are discussing by their furrowed brows and frantic hand-gesturing as the players they are debating exist at such a miniscule level of obscurity they are typically only observable through an MLB-licensed microscope.  It really is ridiculous, and I enjoy mocking my friends’ failed efforts at the conclusion of every season after a summer of hearing about nothing but inane statistics and all-but-irrelevant minor league prospects.

Today, most in the league have since traded in their cleats for loafers and fantasy competition now remains their only real tie with the baseball world.  Needless to say, when you finish the best four years of your life and move on to a staunch, suit and starched-shirt existence, you cling to the scraps of that previous world tighter than a lifeboat from the Titanic.  I have watched this ludicrousness escalate year after year and continue to marvel at the ferocity they play a game derived from monitoring box scores.  To this point, this passion has translated into fierce competition equaled only by the league’s brotherly camaraderie.  But now, after half a decade together, this competitiveness has boiled over into bitterness and resentment that may prove to be the league’s eventual demise.

This particular league’s trouble stems from something that has likely been a point of contention since the inception of this silly little fantasy game, a trade.  The transaction was an offer by player K of Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton to player D for Orioles closer Alfredo Simon and Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts.  D found this trade to be exceedingly in his favor and quickly accepted.  The trade did not garner the necessary veto votes required to be overturned as predetermined by league players and was therefore accepted.  And then all hell broke loose.

For these poor suckers the last week has turned into way too much politics and way too little baseball.  After the trade had been accepted, a number of people began to cry to the commissioner that it was monstrously unfair in D’s favor, disregarding the fact that K actually proposed the trade and that it had passed legitimately under the league’s standing rules.  There has been constant bickering from all sides even though the majority of the league did not even cast a vote when the trade was originally proposed and therefore were counted as indifferent by default.

Suddenly, everything has been called into question in their once peaceful fantasy world.  The commissioner has been inundated with countless claims, counter-claims, and suggestions as to how the manner should be resolved.  I have read through a nearly endless league message board and heard a bunch of know-it-all nerds throw around the biggest words they can in an attempt to politically maneuver into what they see as the most favorable outcome for their own interests.  And I must be honest; I have found these shenanigans to be incessantly amusing.

I used to have the utmost respect for this league.  I admired their wholehearted, albeit in my opinion misguided, passion and competitive spirit, the way they somehow managed to still capture the emotion and enthusiasm for a game they had given up playing in real life.  I understood that as cut-throat as it all was, the bottom line was that they were old friends continuing to have fun every day even though their lives had taken them all in different directions.  Or I thought I understood that.

Player D, who like much of the league has literally dedicated way more of his life than he should have to attempting to win a fantasy title, has threatened to leave the league permanently.  I understand his position; he made a trade that passed following league rules yet is now in danger of being retroactively vetoed.  For a bunch of smart, successful guys with a lot going for them in life, this all seems extremely childish and crybaby-esque.  But what I find most shocking is that I know all of these guys have much more important things to worry about.  Yet over a week after the original trade came and went the Congress-like back and forth campaigning continues to bleed over into their real lives.

For me, the enjoyment of professional sports is in witnessing the jaw-dropping displays of sheer human athleticism, not poring over spreadsheets.  Real life politics and drama have suddenly invaded my friends’ onetime fantasyland sanctuary and I’m glad I can just sit back and watch it unfold.  This whole incident seems to confirm my suspicions that fantasy sports are nothing but a big joke in which people get way too carried away thinking that they are actually doing something substantial.

Get a life, people.  Go watch some actual baseball.  Or better yet, next time you’re tempted to get out your IPhone and propose your friend a trade, go grab your glove and play catch with him instead.

13 Comments

  1. Steven Braf says:

    I’m player D. Everything in this is the truth, but I really don’t want credit as an example of all the things wrong with fantasy baseball. Despite the fact that this will in all likelihood be my final season in this particular league, I did have 4 1/2 really fun ones before this all happened. In my opinion, if the rules are followed and everyone agrees on them upfront, then anyone’s league can be a lot like my first 4 1/2 in this one, especially if it is comprised of old friends. Hopefully anyone reading this can find one like that because it can be very rewarding under the right circumstances.

  2. bob says:

    Brett

    While I appreciate and enjoy your writing here on the Sombrero, it makes me sad that I really don’t like this article. I’m the commissioner of the league discussed and clearly when I’m cast in a bad light or our league is it concerns me.

    Your cynical words and slanted writing doesn’t represent the facts. I’m pretty sure that all the people you talked to (aside from reading the Samurai) regarding this incident fell on the side of agreeing with the trade and disagreeing with my decision (i.e. your brother and I did most of the debating). I recommend you talk to some other guys in the league, or myself, before you make your opinions and claims, because there’s no way you can consider yourself objective or fair or even an outsider.

    I will post something that may help and it will be easily accessible for you if you care to look at it.

    The incident you talk about is resolved. Like I recently posted on our Samurai Board, there was a contentious trade. Debate ensued. The people were polled. They became apathetic at its lengths and the trade eventually stood. Changes were made so that it never happens again. Problem solved. People overreacted and said some things they didn’t mean. It happens in arguments.

    The important thing now is not who wins or loses this argument, but how quickly we can all move on from it.

    Dee benefits the most from the whole ordeal because the majority of the league now accepts his once controversial trade. Now, any success he has can’t be bitched about.

    I think its best that everyone moves on. Consider this a disagreement with some overreactions among friends that have blown it incredibly out of proportion. It wouldn’t be the first time something like this has happened over a competitive event.

    On another note, I can confirm that the league is made up of a bunch of nerds. That’s why my decision was based on as much fact and objectivity as a person is capable of, and why I felt the need to completely articulate my deliberation: to satisfy our nerdery. In your article you cast myself and members of our league in a negative light and a stereotyped manner without ever meeting most of us. I think it’s immature to insult a bunch of people you have never met. It is very easy to make fun of people for being passionate about something you have no interest in.

    I really think this was an opinion best meant for the members of the league rather than the audience of the Sombrero and whoever else. It is misguided, biased, and disrespectful, and I think this piece will do more harm than good.

    Dee, I’m really sorry that you are considering leaving the league. I’m also sorry that you felt victimized by the whole incident. I don’t want you to leave and neither does anybody in our league, so before you ultimately decide please consider that. Everyone wants you to stay.

    Robbie

  3. Buck Nasty says:

    Commissioner Bob,

    First off, for the record I did receive Golden Sombrero webmaster/denslow cupper arlo’s permission before writing the piece. He in fact thought it was a great idea and stated his opinion to be neutral on the matter of the trade since as he put it his team is currently “the shiznit”.

    Sorry if you personally didn’t want your decisions opinionated in the public but I just found the whole matter to be downright hilarious and I think others will as well. Perhaps it was unfair for me to use the Denslow Cup to exemplify my personal beef with fantasy sports in general, but I saw this incident as a prime example of what I find to be most ridiculous about it. I realize there is a whole lot of other crap you guys do without getting all crybaby but that just wouldn’t have been a very fun story to tell. And yeah I figured someone would accuse me of being biased or whatever, but my opinion would have been the same no matter who was involved.

    I’m not interested in hearing any more of your or anyone else’s political statements and they will not change my view on the matter. Glad you guys got it all worked out and I’m sorry if I hurt your nerdy little feelings.

    Brett

  4. bob says:

    Brett

    Real mature. Glad to know that you abused this forum to be an asshole and disrespect everyone involved, and now your closest friends, while making yourself out to be an innocent bystander.

    Rosey is a nice guy who is clearly not going to deny one of his best writer’s articles.

    Your opinion speaks volumes about you.

    Good talk. See you out there.

    Bob

  5. Justin Bieber says:

    Ha. Brett, I think your article is great and I appreciate somebody bringing to light the ridiculousness of the situation. This whole debacle ruined fantasy baseball for me. I won’t be returning to the league either.

    Bob, if I remember right you insulted members of the league for name-calling and being immature. Now look who’s talking. Maybe you should “take a look in the mirror.”

    Brett, keep doing what you’re doing. I enjoy reading your pieces about baseball much more than freaking out about my players’ OBP.

  6. bob says:

    Justin

    Move on.

    Bob

  7. Mike Rosenbaum says:

    First off all, I really like this article. Why would it not go up on the sombrero? Most of the writers for the sombrero actually play in the fantasy league…could there be an article that is any more appropriate for the site? This isn’t the league board where we are incessantly complaining, it’s a forum for glorifying our league while discussing it in a much more intelligent manner.

    I think it has been made clear that the conflict has been resolved, and I think that it is equally clear that our resolution has nothing to do with the point of Brett’s article. Rob, he’s just giving an outsider’s perspective on the ridiculousness of our fantasy league. If anything, I think that it is a testament to how ill our league is. In all honesty, the only argument that’s going on here is fueled by your scornful rebuttals and I’m kind of confused by all of the hot fire you’ve been spitting. Considering that you have been a great commish of our league since it’s birth, I totally get why you may be taking this entire situation a little more personally. However, as you have said, it’s resolved.

    Additionally, I feel that because you have not seen eye to eye with with Griff or Dee on the matter, you are viewing this article as an extension of their beliefs. Nobody has gone after you without being provoked(Griff), and it seems unnecessary for you to do so, especially with a compromise having already been reached. I simply will not allow the writers of Sombrero to personally insult each other within this holy sanctuary. Understood everybody?

    Also, despite Brett’s knowledge of computers, I have a minor suspicion that he fears technology.

    Rosey

    PS – Shout out to player d!

  8. Mike, nice work handling the situation, you’re right on. This piece wasn’t intended as a personal attack on the commish or anyone else playing for the revered Denslow Cup, as much as they may think it is /want it to be. I didn’t even mention a single person by name. If I wanted to do that I could have made the entire thing much more individual with a variety of ridiculous quotes from everyone, including my brother. But as Rosey points out, the details of the name calling or the exact handling of the situation or the precise resolution were not the point of this article.

    If you’ll note in the beginning of the piece I pretty much say that any league other than Tout Wars doesn’t have shit on the Denslow Cup. You guys (and ladies/Biebers) all put a ridiculous amount of work into this and therefore a lot of ridiculous, and to some, entertaining, shit comes spewing out the other end, more so lately than ever.

    Commissioner, maybe before you keep marching on in this winless battle you should throw up a poll and democratically decide who is in support. As fun as internet beef can be, I don’t wanna end up getting charged with a crime because somebody killed himself and therefore I refuse to start. Unless Mike thinks a continued beef would boost traffic to the site, in which case we can continue indefinitely. Otherwise I hope to drop it; after all I think that’s what Mr. Ted Denslow really would have wanted.

    I meant no disrespect, and I strongly feel I have in no way abused this exceptionally awesome, oversized Mexican hat Mike has built for all of our enjoyment. And yes, while I wouldn’t say I fear it, I am definitely suspicious of technology. I just don’t trust the bastard.

    One last note to Justin Bieber – thanks for support, now can you please come over and wipe me down with a cool towel; I hear that’s the only way to cure this wicked case of BieberFever.

    Brett P.

  9. bob says:

    Rosey

    I’m wholeheartedly in favor of putting this whole thing being behind us. I don’t think you give me a fair shake in this whole matter when you don’t acknowledge other hot fire that’s been spat, but that’s your opinion.

    Brett clearly insults everyone in our league in the article, but, you’re right, he also touts it as well. In my comment I didn’t give him enough credit for touting our league.
    I also admit that my comment was inflammatory. I apologize. I inappropriately got heated at Brett’s last sentence and overall tone and it came out it my comment. Brett, I am sorry.

    I think my frustration stems from my original decision to have the poll. Griff, Whitney, Dee, and some others clearly didn’t agree with me. While I expected to have a discussion about it, I didn’t expect the incendiary comments. I did not throw the first stone. The first stone was thrown when the people that disagreed questioned my motivation for the decision rather than the merits of it. That’s why I took things personal and I apologize for my hot fire.

    I’m moved on. I apologize to anyone I’ve offended. Rosey, I apologize for the scornful rebuttals. The Sombrero is your baby, and I never meant to cause it any harm. Please consider that the fantasy league is my baby, and even though it is just as much everyone else’s as mine now, I still consider it a place that should be respected.

    Bob

  10. Mark says:

    Just a note about Brett’s mistrust of that conniving asshole technology we allow to infiltrate the deepest parts of ourselves. It’s the medium for great things like fantasy and shiny mexican hat blogs. It is also what has allowed a disagreement among friends to spiral into reactionary threats about participation in something that unites us. Would we really be in this position if we had the luxury of settling the matter over beers? I ask Player D and Mr. Bieber to hold off on making any decisions until the end of the fantasy year when everyone’s emotions have sufficiently ebbed.

    Rob deserves credit for working toward what he feels is in the best interest of the league. That’s his job and he does it well. We don’t have to agree with him all the time, but I think he makes a good point about grounding our interactions in respect for the league and respect for each other.

    I also want to throw some love around. Brett, I laughed a lot while reading the article, thanks for your insights. Mikey, what you’ve done with this site is awesome and inspiring.

  11. Keepin' it Corporate says:

    Somebody mention wiping somebody down with a cool towel?

    I’m a cool towel.

  12. Justin Bieber says:

    Towel,

    I’m sorry, but I don’t know if your services will be necessary. The only way to cure Bieber Fever is through a strong dosage of the Jonas Brothers. Unfortunately, it is a very difficult sickness to cure.

    However, if you’re up to the challenge, I know that the Joe Bros are in need of a cool towel. That’s a pretty good gig I hear.

  13. Quailman says:

    You guys are nuts about fantasy. In fact I’m not sure I have ever had a conversation with any of the league members where the topic doesn’t somehow turns into fantasy, or that hasn’t been interrupted by a phone check of fantasy status that are rattled back to me even though I would be hard-pressed to care any less about them.

    Brett, you’re hilarious and your outsider’s veiw of the league is something that readers can relate to.

    Bob, you sound like you have a little too much sand in your vagina. Stop crying before I have to give you the Quail Eye and render you helpless and stupified.

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